Experts join forces to push BC to be recognized as family doctors RS News

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RS News

Specialists from cardiologists to pediatricians and orthopedic surgeons are pushing the British Columbia government to reduce backlogs that have worsened wait times.

Their stance comes as the head of the Canadian Medical Association says it’s time for new solutions to address a common problem across the country.

Twenty-six doctors sent an open letter Wednesday to Health Minister Adrian Dix, saying they want an urgent meeting with him because of a “collapsing” health care system that leaves them “fed up and frustrated.”

As of Thursday, 135 experts had signed the letter, which was posted on the BC Expert Advisors website.

“Patients are getting sicker and dying on our waiting lists,” the letter says, citing examples of the impact on patients, including one who was suddenly and permanently deaf after waiting too long to see a specialist.

It says one million patients in BC are waiting to be seen, based on data from BC Consultants, which surveyed members in August.

Dr. Chris Hoag, a North Vancouver urologist who signed the letter, said a broad base of experts joined forces to force the government to do something because they were burned while trying to see more patients who became ill.

“I’m doing everything I can to make the wait as short as possible. But you know, there are times when I have a big load of patients waiting for cancer surgery, and I can’t sleep because I don’t know how I’m going to do them all at the right time. “

Unlike family physicians, who recently received $118 million in temporary funding to offset higher costs, specialists who run programs that reach out to small businesses have nothing, Hoag said.

It’s been very distressing for professionals to see that there hasn’t been a conversation about a single shared issue in specialty care,” said Hoag, president of BC Consultants.

“Primary care is a total disaster and it definitely needs to be fixed,” said Hoag about the lack of family doctors, adding that delays in referrals to specialists, which can worsen patients’ conditions to the point of emergency.

“Then they take the hospital beds, which removes the surgery because we don’t have a place to discharge the patient (operating room), we can’t do the surgery. So, it’s a big domino effect that’s happening and it’s not just limited to primary care issues. “

Even patients with a general practitioner sit on a waiting list of an average of 10 months and sometimes up to two years, he said.

Hoag said Dix did not respond to the letter.

The Health Minister said the minister was not available for an interview, but gave a written statement.

All doctors, including specialists, have access to their problems through Doctors of BC, the union that represents them in negotiations with the government, the report says.

BC doctors say the so-called physician contract that expired in March negotiates with the government on behalf of all doctors but the needs of specialists go beyond its scope and cannot be addressed through compensation.

“Instead, in many cases dealing with the waiting list of specialists can only be achieved by improving the infrastructure of health care, programs and resources such as increasing (operating room) time,” it said in a written statement.

“We are fully committed to supporting professional issues, and we are working with the BC Communications Specialists and various specialized departments,” the organization said, adding its board will determine when that will happen.

Dr. Alika Lafontaine, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said that professionals in all provinces and territories are facing “combined problems” as millions of patients await their services.

“Primary care and specialty care are all busy at the same time,” he said, adding that a letter from experts in BC points to major, unprecedented issues involving multiple problems such as overcrowded and closed emergency rooms in various areas due to a lack of nurses. and other health care providers.

“These types of letters were not coming out even in the midst of a pandemic,” Lafontaine said of the pressure health care providers are under.

“There’s a personal cost to the patients, but there’s also a personal cost to the providers who show up to work day in and day out with this high level of stress.”

Lafontaine said collaboration is needed by provinces and territories to find new solutions such as team-based care, not just more requests for funding, which has been increased across the board.

“I don’t think many provinces rely on team-based care, ensuring that this care is delivered to the right people at the right time and in the right place,” he said.

“Areas that reduce the administrative burden on doctors certainly make more time for doctors to provide care,” he said of doctors who repeatedly send information to multiple regulatory agencies.

Lafontaine called for an urgent meeting between the federal, provincial and territorial governments to create a long-term, sustainable system.

He said the organization will gather this fall with other advocacy groups, including the Canadian Nurses Association and patient advocacy groups, to discuss how to address common needs.

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 22, 2022.

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